INTERVIEWING OVER THE TELEPHONE

A landline telephone

Businesses are busy and unfortunately that means that amongst other things they don't have the time to meet all applicants for a job any longer.  They need to pre-screen them (often via the internal HR group) and only those candidates shortlisted will be selected for that all important face-to-face interview where you can hopefully impress them enough to either get that job, or get a callback for a further interview. 

Unfortunately the job market is tight, there really isn't any getting around that, so here are some good tips and hints to at least get your foot in the door.  The first key point being preparation ... a telephone interview is still an opportunity for you to sell yourself so you need to ensure that you are prepared.  You need to know what the business does, who you are going to be speaking to (do some research on them on LinkedIn), the specifics about the role & your suitability to fulfill those specifics.  You must also be able to speak intelligently about your own past history - specifically any gaps in your resume.

Some Key Hints

  • Time - it is key that you ensure that you are ready and available at the scheduled time for your call and that you allow yourself enough time to complete the interview.  Do not get caught commuting, or walking outside - the person you are speaking to need to be able to ask questions that are understood by you and you need to ensure that your answers are being just as clearly understood.  Try to find a quiet, out of the way place for the conversation and as mentioned earlier, ensure that you are not feeling rushed by making other arrangements.  
  • Know who you are speaking to - I've already mentioned it, but this bears repeating ... know your interviewer if at all possible. Ensure that you have their name clearly memorized and have some basic questions to ask them in return depending on their role in the company (if nothing else, asking about next steps shows them you're interested).
  • Know the job - again another one that must be repeated - being on the other side of the chair, I've often found myself amazed that the person I'm interviewing doesn't know anything about the company, their locations, their products or services.  I've even interviewed people who don't know what they are being interviewed for! - DO NOT be that person!  With the tools available to anyone in today's market, some simple basic research just using Google will give you a good head start.
  • Use a Landline if possible - while cellular technology has definitely improved, landlines are still more reliable and you want to ensure that your conversation is as clear as possible.  As mentioned previously finding a quiet space along with using a landline will guarantee that while you might not always give the right answer, you will at least be able to understand the question!
  • Dress for the interview and pretend it's face-to-face - it's easy to think you can do an interview in your pajamas's but lets be honest ... if you dress appropriately and act appropriately (speak with a smile) it will come across in the tone of your conversation.  Phone interviews are always more difficult than face-to-face ones.  Its very difficult to understand body language when you are not able to see the other person, however if you have a good telephone manner and speak as if the person is there, you will be more successful.
  • Be prepared - sorry for repeating myself once again, but these are the key ones.  You need to know your own resume inside and out.  Prepare 'SAR stories': describe the Situation, the Action taken and the Results achieved. Keep these stories to 1 minute long, and be concise and succinct.  Talk about successes AND failures.  Interviewers want to know not just how good you are at your job, but also how you'd deal with adversity.
  • Repetition - well as you can see from the above, I'm not afraid to repeat some things that are important and that's exactly what you should be doing in the interview.  Practice active listening and demonstrate you are engaged and interested by referencing points made earlier in the conversation. Ask questions related to topics that have been discussed.
  • Closing - make sure that you let the interviewer know that you are interested - its potentially the last thing they will remember about you and you need to ensure that you thank them and press upon them your excitement for the role and position.
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